Light oil fields in Lake Maracaibo have been produced for several decades under depletion and waterflooding. Due to reservoir heterogeneity and complexity the traditional waterflooding oil recovery is not expected to exceed 30% of initial oil in place. Potential Improved Oil Recovery (IOR) methods capable to boost production from the mature fields are now under investigation and testing by the State Venezuelan Oil Company PDVSA. PDVSA's main IOR technology strategy is based on Integrated Field Laboratory (IFL) philosophy. IFL allows concentrating resources on modern technology evaluation, design IOR processes to solve regional problems, reduce the gap between laboratory screening and the field application phase for most promising recovery methods. The Water Alternating Gas (WAG) pilot at VLE-305 area of Lagocinco field is one of such IOR laboratory fields with the first immiscible gas injection pilot in Lake Maracaibo started in May 2000. The WAG pilot encompasses five production wells, one dual completion injection well and one observation well. The producing reservoir C-23 is a stratified sandstone with areal and lateral heterogeneities. Separator hydrocarbon gas is injected in the dual completion injection well in the WAG mode. Different sensitivity simulations were performed to design and optimize WAG injection strategy. The WAG pilot is now in its second stage of implementation and evaluation. Simulations are focused on tracer modeling and interpretation of production wells response.

Since available injection volumes of hydrocarbon gas for large scale WAG injection projects are not available in the area, other IOR alternatives are being considered. The VLE pilot is again used as a laboratory for screening other potential IOR technologies. Nitrogen injection in WAG and continuum mode, and cyclic water injection are strategies under consideration.

Nitrogen injection facilities will not be operational in the near future, therefore cyclic water injection is considered as an alternative for short-term production improvement under waterflooding. Cyclic injection can accelerate oil production and reduce water cut making production more economic and not requiring significant additional investments in the field. The preliminary evaluation of cyclic injection in the pilot area gives oil production improvement by 2-3%, and expansion of the process over a larger field area could give additional sweep improvement. WAG injection is estimated to improve oil recovery by 10-12% of STOOIP. WAG with nitrogen as injection gas may give 4-6% of STOOIP in increased oil recovery in comparison with waterflooding.

You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.